The Childhood Cancer Survivor Study has shed valuable light on the special health needs of individuals who received treatment for cancer as children. Among the findings:
- About two out of three childhood cancer survivors are likely to eventually develop some type of medical concern related to their cancer treatment.
- Skin cancer risk is elevated, particularly among survivors who received radiation therapy.
- Survivors are five to ten times more likely to develop major heart problems than are their healthy siblings.
- Survivors show a tendency toward learning disabilities.
- Forty percent of brain cancer survivors and 30 percent of bone cancer survivors experience challenges with activities of daily living.
- Survivors have an elevated risk for cancer, with the increased risk highest for those who had bone or breast cancer.
Such results have provided insights for modifying cancer treatment regimens. For example, oncologists have stopped using radiation to the chest to treat Hodgkin’s disease in girls as a way to reduce the elevated risk of breast cancer.
Survivor data also provide guidance for long-term health follow-up and suggest things patients and their doctors can do to minimize the adverse effects of the cancer and treatment. They also inform basic research into the mechanisms behind late effects.